Mokelumne Watershed Avoided Cost Analysis: Why Sierra Fuel Treatments Make Economic Sense

Prepared for the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service

High-severity wildfires in forests of California’s Sierra Nevada pose a serious threat to people and nature. Although proactive forest management can reduce the risk of high-severity wildfire, the pace and scale of fuel treatments is insufficient, given the growing scope of the problem. Using the upper Mokelumne River watershed as a representative case, we sought to answer the following question: Does it make economic sense to increase investment in fuel treatments to reduce the risk of large, damaging wildfires? Our analysis suggests that the economic benefits of landscape scale fuel-reduction treatments far outweigh the costs of wildfire.

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